How did the reader end up on your page? There’s a few different routes, but it’s safe to assume the majority of your traffic comes through the mighty search engine.
With that in mind, content writing writing should be approached as answering the question the reader had in their mind when they searched. They are clicking your page with that expectation, and the writer’s goal is to live up to that expectation.
Divining the question
Typically, the writer has two tools to figure out if they’re on the right track: search trends and gut feeling. Both are too extreme. Search trends will tell you what everyone is searching for, a population likely far larger than your target audience. Gut feelings tell you what you would search for, which is likely not representative of your entire target audience. Writers need a suitable tool that isn’t as particular as intuition and isn’t so broad as trends.
The middle ground uses the quantitative data behind search trends, the qualitative data behind those gut feelings, and targets the unique type of reader that ends up on your page.
By offering your readers the chance to react and give direct feedback, you’re planting your feet firmly in this middle ground.
Deriving the question
Reaction trends, easily accessed in weekly reports, can show you how your audience is feeling about your content. If a handful of related articles are getting a lot of “I didn’t find what I was looking for” reactions, then maybe it’s time to figure out what topic you’re missing.
Direct feedback accesses the experience of reading your article, from your readers point of view. This takes out the need for any guesswork. Instead of waiting for the sneaking suspicion that your site is missing info, let your readers tell you.
Both of these are impossible to gather from typical analytics metrics. Your article might be woefully uninformative but still get off-the-chart view counts. Without reactions, you’d never know.